Apple iPhone Sends Asian Handset Makers' Shares Tumbling

Shares in Asian high-end handset makers such as LG Electronics tumbled Wednesday after Apple unveiled the long-anticipated iPhone, a smart phone with features from the iPod music player.

But shares in makers of flash memory chips and other cell phone component makers could gain should the iPhone replicate the success of Apple's iconic digital music player, while mobile
operators that carry the new phones may also end up winners.

Apple Tuesday introduced an iPod mobile phone featuring a large, smooth color screen that will debut in the U.S. in June.

Its entry comes at a time when shares in global mobile phone makers have already been under pressure after last week's profit warning by Motorola was seen signaling a tough 2007 for the industry.

"These days, sentiment on the handset industry is already very negative, and the iPhone introduction could be another negative to the handset industry," said S.R. Kwon, an analyst at
Hyundai Securities in Seoul.

Shares of mobile phone makers in Asia fell, with LG Electronics dropping over 3% at one point of the trading session.

But among gainers was Japan's Softbank. Shares were higher after retail investors bet the company would be the most likely of Japan's three major mobile operators to release the new Apple phone.